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Markspinner

Third Times a Charm?

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This is the third time I'm giving this game a try since 2013.  The first time I bought the game I had one core and was getting stomped on every scenario.  The second time I bought two cores and same results.  I sold all my cards at that point.

Fast forward to a month ago - I had the itch and bought one core set after finding an excellent solo one core, one-handed deck by Jeff Hannes.  I was finally able to see how the game is to be played out with a somewhat optimized deck.  This revitalized my interest in the game.  I went back to trying to build my own decks and now I'm banging my head on the wall again.  

The issue I think I'm running into is that there are only a few viable hero combinations that work out of the core.  Eowyn seems to be an auto-include if you want to have any success with questing. I've tried not to spoil too much but I hope that she at least has an equal in questing in future packs.  Was trying to fit Gimli in since he seems to be THE combat god, but his high threat makes it difficult to include and also at that point you're down to deciding between Lore and Leadership for your third hero which both seem equally important.

From what I read the first cycle is difficult but the game really opens up with Khaza-Dum.  Is that my next optimal purchase after one core?  Will I be able to build better decks with that cycle?  The heroes feel very limited right now and therefore so do my options. I'm sure a lot of that is my experience even though I'm a heavy card player (Netrunner, Arkham Horror LCG, etc).

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Yeah, there aren't very many great options in just the core set. You pretty much have to go with either Eowyn, Glorfindel, or Aragorn + Theodred in solo to quest successfully. I'd say the first cycle is actually by far the easiest, but you really have to build decks specifically against the strengths and weakness of each different quest.

And yes, unless you plan on starting one of the recent cycles, Khazad-dum is your best bet. Especially if you get Return to Mirkwood (for Dain).

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Even though this has been far and away my favourite and most played game over the past 5 years, I remember when I first tried the Core Set quests and was not that impressed. My enjoyment increased hugely once I'd invested in a few of the deluxe expansions, as well as some key packs to get heroes like Boromir and Dain. I've never played one-handed solo, but if you're determined to go that route be aware it'll often be more difficult, particularly early on - though the game is now more 1-player (and 3 & 4 player) friendly, it was designed with 2 players in mind. I realise the advice to simply spend more money (on a game that you don't yet love) might not be the most welcome, but it was the solution for me. And yes, I agree that Khazad-dum is your best next step.

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I would actually suggest picking up the first cycle and then any deluxe + cycle that looks interesting to you. The second cycle does have some of the strongest heroes in the game but there are some great cards in other packs too so pick up what you enjoy. We did the first cycle and then Black Riders so I could have Eagles with Boromir and Hobbits. 

Also don't discount Easy Mode or the one we prefer where you just start with an extra resource on each Hero. It lets you get your engine going sooner so you can play more cards, try more combos, use less optimized heroes and generally enjoy the game without touching the horrors of the encounter deck.

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A huge part of the fun of this game comes from being able to try new totally different decks, or swap heroes/tweak decks to certain challenges. Therefore despite this being one of my favorite games I have to say its one that really does require an investment.

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I also wasn't too impressed by the core set experience. I actually bought the entire first cycle while in college, but I petered out because I wasn't really good at the deck building thing. Not to mention the lure of Skyrim and the responsibility of school-work. A couple of years ago, I found Beorn's Path and finally deck-building started to "click" with me (although I'm still not a very good deck builder). So I invested in some more cards and I've been hooked ever since.

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Thanks for all the great feedback.  How does everyone feel about a second or third core?  I'm thinking at least two so I can get some of the more powerful cards to the table like Unexpected Courage.

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The third core set is only really needed for a third copy of Unexpected Courage and if you want to use cards like Test of Will in two decks at the same time. Otherwise you would be better off with only one extra core set and just use a proxy for the third UC.

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There was a time where you'd have to wait over a year for reprints. Now I think they've stepped up their game and are reprinting them more frequent; every few months or so. Whatever you do don't buy from the scalpers who say things like "Out of Print", or "Super RARE!!".

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I would say no unless you plan to play 4 player, there are better first purchases. If you really want the extra key cards and live in the states so you can save on the insane FFG shipping just buy the collectors edition as it comes with some more cards and still x2 of the key cards so you only need the one set.

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20 minutes ago, General_Grievous said:

I would say no unless you plan to play 4 player, there are better first purchases. If you really want the extra key cards and live in the states so you can save on the insane FFG shipping just buy the collectors edition as it comes with some more cards and still x2 of the key cards so you only need the one set.

Is that the $100 version?  Love the full bleed but I don't think I'd be saving much money lol

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I wouldn't buy a second core until you get everything else. If you really want/need the extra 1/2-ofs (like Unexpected Courage) and you sleeve your player cards, you can always photo-copy the original and put it into a sleeve along with a different player card for the back.

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If you go to boardgamegeek.com's marketplace there are a couple copies of Khazad-dum for sale for a reasonable price. But in general having to wait for reprints can be a problem. I've kept up with the card pool for the last few years, but even before sourcing was an issue I'd usually just purchase whatever I'd find on sale. It's the most efficient way to maximize your player cards and ultimately give you the most options. If money is a factor at all, I wouldn't invest in a second Core until you have most of the other material. Those few extra powerful cards are useful, but you'll get so much more for your money buying 3 new packs instead. I'd also second Wilds of Rhovanian, as it - more than any other expansion - has a strong, playable out of the box strategy.

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On 10/17/2019 at 8:06 AM, Markspinner said:

The issue I think I'm running into is that there are only a few viable hero combinations that work out of the core.  Eowyn seems to be an auto-include if you want to have any success with questing. I've tried not to spoil too much but I hope that she at least has an equal in questing in future packs. 

Core Eowyn is by far the best quester in the early life of the game. There are plenty of others powerful questing heroes later though (about 14 by my count) and about the same number of other “good” questers (usually characters who quest and have some sort of trick to do something else or boost questing). Eowyn is always at the top in terms of raw number because of her ability, but she’s a one trick pony. Tbh I almost never use coreset Eowyn these days.

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